Practical Sheet

Captivating the audience

SHEET #9

How does the storyteller catch the listeners’ attention?

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? 

Storytelling is not a simple task and neither is capturing the listeners’ attention. The moment must be prepared carefully and accurately. The storyteller can do this in a variety of ways with the help of various strategies/resources, making the moment enjoyable both for himself and for his listeners, so as to hold everyone’s attention and transport them into a fantasy world. The corporal and vocal expression of the storyteller will provide moments of suspense, fixing the attention and boosting the imagination of the listener.  

Telling stories standing or sitting down, using much or little of the body, the listener’s attention is important. Holding attention through a simple glance will have an impact and will undoubtedly be decisive in reaching the listener. Both voice and silence are two essential tools for any storyteller. It is essential that the storyteller knows how to create moments of pause, use higher and rhythmic or soft tones of voice in accelerated moments, calm or suspense, not forgetting to use onomatopoeic words to describe sounds. Therefore, it is important that the story is selected according to the age group, the language used and the aesthetic and thematic tastes of the target audience. The themes of the stories (see Pedagogical kits on Thematic topics) that best suit and please the different age groups of the students are:

  • Up to the age of 3 – stories of toys, nature beings and fables are the favorites;  
  • From 3 to 6 – they prefer stories that repeat words, expressions or phrases accumulatively, as well as fairy tales; (see sheet
  • At the age of 7 – looking for narratives that include fairies, magic, animals and adventures; 
  • From 8 to 9 years – interested in fairy tales with more elaborate and complex plots and tales linked to reality;  
  • From the age of 10 – interested in adventures, travel stories, research and exploration, epics, fables, myths and legends. 

At the end of the narrative, in order to develop their orality and freedom of expression, it is essential that the students who listen have a participatory and active role as critical and constructive facilitators.

HOW TO DO IT? 

To be a good storyteller and catch the listeners’ attention:  

👉 Choose stories you know well and like;  

👉 Script the story to memorize the events and present them clearly and suggestively; (more on sheet

👉 Prepare the narration and props, if any, rehearse in the mirror, or in front of people who can give you feedback; 

👉 Choose a comfortable and calm space that creates a cozy and close environment for everyone.  

👉 Tell the story in the rhythm and time that each narrative requires.  

👉 Whenever possible involve your listeners in the storytelling.  

To better appropriate the story and capture the attention of the listeners, the storyteller uses various resources (voice, gestures, body expression…) in order to promote the success of active listening. 

💡 Resource 1 

The storyteller chooses the appropriate physical space. The environment must be harmonious and cozy, without external distractions. 

💡 Resource 2  

Excellent resources for telling stories and stimulating the imagination and language, making it easier to realize fantasies and express feelings are: the use of a chest with objects that can be used on stage – to be used as props; the use of a colored felt mat with cut-outs of the characters from the stories; the use of an apron with Velcro where the characters can be fixed; the manipulation of puppets or finger puppets and Chinese shadows. (See sheet

💡 Resource 3  

At key moments in the narration the use of conventional musical instruments, which are accessible to the group, or instruments made by the students themselves, and the sound repertoire produced with the body can also help. 

Example 1- Finger puppets 

Example 2 – Story apron 

(Colorful and dynamic pedagogical resource where the characters of the story are placed through Velcro, in an apron that serves as a setting for the story). 

Example 3 – Chinese shadows (see sheet for more info)